“Whoever appeals to any science in order to justify his basic convictions inspires distrust of his honesty or his intelligence”
It seems that in this age of ours, defined as it is by an unsettling uncertainty of our most cherished assumptions, and a fashionable postmodern relativism, it is paradoxically not so much conducive to a public discourse marked by pluralism and openness to outside viewpoints as it is one marked by a new multiplicity of dogmatisms, ones which more than opening venues for discussion appear to close down on limited and fragmentary aspects- which then go on to assert themselves in a totalizing conquest of debates. Continue reading
by Susan Barber
In the early 18th century, the German physicist Ernst Chladni, the ”father of acoustics,” covered plates with thin layers of sand, set them vibrating, and observed the patterns that were made in response to different sound stimuli.
In 1967, nearly three hundred years later, Hans Jenny, a Swiss doctor, artist, and researcher, published Cymatics – The Structure and Dynamics of Waves and Vibrations. In this book, published in both German and English, Jenny, like his precursor, showed what happens when one takes various materials like sand, water, or iron filings, and places them on vibrating metal surfaces. Continue reading
1. The idea that nature is a machine, and therefore so are plants, animals, and people.
That brains are genetically programmed computers, the results of which we must just live out. Essentially, this belief is just a “hangover” from a older worldview. Before the big bang theory, the prevailing belief was that everything was designed by an external mind, that that we all ultimately serve the purpose of the “machine-maker.” Continue reading
Isn’t our genetic legacy hardwired?
From Mendel and Darwin in the 19th century to Watson and Crick in the 20th, scientists have shown that chromosomes passed from parent to child form a genetic blueprint for development. But in a quiet scientific revolution, researchers have in recent years come to realize that genes aren’t a fixed, predetermined program simply passed from one generation to the next. Instead, genes can be turned on and off by experiences and environment. What we eat, how much stress we undergo, and what toxins we’re exposed to can all alter the genetic legacy we pass on to our children and even grandchildren. In this new science of “epigenetics,” researchers are exploring how nature and nurture combine to cause behavior, traits, and illnesses that genes alone can’t explain, ranging from sexual orientation to autism to cancer. “We were all brought up to think the genome was it,” said Rockefeller University molecular biologist C. David Allis. “It’s really been a watershed in understanding that there is something beyond the genome.” Continue reading
from Ancient Origins
On October 9, 1929, a German theologian named Gustav Adolf Deissmann was cataloguing items in the Topkapi Palace library in Istanbul when he happened across a curious parchment located among some disregarded material. On the gazelle skin parchment was a map, now referred to as the Piri Reis map . The map was drawn and signed by Turkish cartographer Hagji Ahmed Muhiddin Piri , aka Piri Reis, and is dated to 1513 CE. Reis was an admiral in the Turkish navy, an experienced sailor, and a cartographer, who claimed to have used 20 source maps and charts to construct the map, including 8 Ptolemaic maps, 4 Portuguese maps, an Arabic map, and a map by Christopher Columbus. Continue reading
by Adam Nash
I’m a big fan of distributed systems – complex networks of an extremely large number of independent entities governed by simple and transparent rules. Not surprising, really, that I work professionally on next-generation products and services based on the Internet, one of the most successful man-made distributed systems in existence.
As a result, it’s not surprising that I found this article in the latest issue of Scientific American compelling: Continue reading